Safety and Locks

People like secrets. Creative people really like secrets.
~ Nolan Bushnell

There are times when you just don’t want everyone to see what you think and feel. There are those times when you need to make a note to yourself, and you just don’t know where to keep it. Where do you keep any “notes” you may want to remember about a particular student? Where is that safe place?

Teacher Notes

A teacher wrote:

Is there anyway to add a comment box to the student gradebook view that only teachers and TA’s can see? I know that we can modify their profile to add information, but it would be nice to have a box already there that you can add a quick note about the student maybe right under the forcing resources section? That way teachers, leads and TA’s can communicate things like student interventions and dates, etc. Would that be possible?

Possible? It’s here! Visit any student grade report. Above the performance graphs on the right select MODIFY STUDENT PROFILE. Scroll the page and you will notice a new section labeled TEACHER NOTES:


Anything written in this section is viewable ONLY to the teacher and teaching assistants. Notes kept here will not be shown to the student. This might well serve to help communication between teachers.  Will you use it?

Lockout Icon

Then another teacher wrote:

Could we please have a little icon on the student grade report page to indicate when a student has locked themselves out of a worksheet or a test or exam? Maybe a little red padlock next to the gold star? Thanks for thinking about it.

We did more than think; we took action! You might notice a new icon in your student grade report:


That icon indicates when a student has been locked out of a particular exam. The exam allowed only one entry. The student entered and failed to submit the exam. If you click the icon, and the student is online, you will see a warning like one of these:


When you continue, you will be taken to the place to UNLOCK the exam:


We hope this helps. Please let us know.

Exam Data

Someone else sent an email:

I’m often interested in the average score on an exam or the percent of students that get an item correct. How do I interpret the mean score? 

Select EXAMS under ASSESSMENTS in your navigation. From the exam listings select GRADEBOOK from the ACTIONS drop-down menu:


When visit the bottom, you’ll see new data for every individual exam.


Please note that Educator no longer counts exempted exams as a zero in this particular calculation. The same calculations will now be displayed for essay questions on exams.

Visit our Facebook page. Let us know what’s on your mind. Let us know how things are going. Let us know what you need to better do your job or help your students do theirs. Be creative. You never know where it may lead. Recognizing how often we seem to quote Albert Einstein, let’s do it again …

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.
~ Albert Einstein

Penny Wise

The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn’t know enough to take a vacation.
~ Clarence Day


Welcome back! We trust that your mini-vacation was filled with some sunshine, family, fireworks, and/or fun. We are back into the groove here, and we’re moving directly into another quote from one of your prolific keyboards:

It would be really nice, when looking at a specific student under Student, if we could just click an arrow to go to the next student on the list. Right now, we have to click on Student (or the back button) and pick the next student in the list.

“Hmmm,” we think, “… this certainly makes some sense. Why might the teachers appreciate this?”

The reasoning behind this is when I want to see how students are working, I can just click from student to student with one click of the mouse and check to make sure students are working in order and not skipping around. (I can also) check on overall completions, etc. (It’s) just a suggestion. :-)

“Well, now we know the use case, don’t we? It just makes life a little more efficient than it was before. It’s just like one more coin added to the time-saving piggy bank!” How much time will you save here? We don’t know. Will it make much of a difference? Again we don’t know. Who does? Let’s see what the developers have done …

The STUDENTS button/link opens your student roster (jqstudents.cgi), listing student names, usernames, school, last signed in date, and last submission date. Sort and filter the list, however you like. Select any one student and view the grade report. Now look to the bottom corners of your Educator window. Do you see what’s there in the bottom corners?


The PREVIOUS and NEXT buttons will call and present the corresponding student in your list. No longer will you need to click BACK or STUDENTS to return to your roster. Will this enhancement be appreciated? We depend on you to tell us.

Two other additions were programmed this week. The first will help you FIND STUDENTS. There were several requests to search by weeks active.


Add any number or hyphenated range, and Educator will present you with a list of available students matching that criteria. And in case you might have forgotten … you can select any/all of those sorted results and perform an instructional action of your choosing:


Finally this week, there has been some recent confusion regarding whether or not a student accidentally or intentionally had RESET an assignment. You know how there are often multiple versions of the same story. From now on … students will always see this warning to CONFIRM a scheduled reset whether intended or not:


It’s our hope that this confirmation dialogue will help eliminate any accidental resetting of assignments.  Maybe this will save you the time it takes just to deal with these mistakes? Maybe it will save some time on the help desk? Maybe it’s just another minute in your day, just another penny in your bank. That ends this week’s sharing from here. You know where to share your thoughts with us.


A penny saved is a penny earned.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Part Two: Folders

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
~Albert Einstein

The Ucompass developers likewise keep things moving along. This week brought a major overhaul to some look and feel as well as some retooling behind the scenes. Basically, the developers executed a major folder renovation. Take a look at the front-end changes to the Common Folders:


These will now load much faster than ever.  The new default is to show only the first level.  There is a button to SHOW ALL FOLDERS as before, but we know the new speed here will make you smile.

Take a look at your Course Folder. Same new, clean look:


They even dressed up the Student Folders:

There was a major overhaul of many of the Educator pages that you will see. Many links were condensed and changed to reflect the new Educator style:


SEARCH functions were added in places that made sense along with the ability to SHOW ALL FODERS with a click:


There is a lot more than cosmetics and a new coat of paint here. The Educator code in this section has been condensed for greater efficiency and speed. Be sure to share your experience with us as well as others.

Albert Einstein riding his bicycle in Santa Barbara, 1933

Albert Einstein riding his bicycle in Santa Barbara, 1933

Part Two? Where is Part One?

Part One: Voices

If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still.
Take the idea and rock it to and fro.
Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself.
You need do no more.
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

A teacher recently wrote:

Hello I am a French teacher for FLVS. Just completed a semester and we lose a LOT, LOT OF TIME in preparing an end of segment report before we can issue the grade. I strongly think Educator should generate it at the click of a button. We take an average of 5 min to generate for one student. Imagine when you have 200 students!

Our CEO, Mr. Edward Mansouri replied:

I completely understand what you are saying.
I am copying this to 2 of my top technicians and practitioners and asking they make this issue a top priority.
Our job is to make your lives as teachers less tedious so you have more time and energy to better educate your students.

Two technicians did some research (with your help on Facebook) and compiled this list of courses with voice activities:

3860   – Chinese 1 V12
2564   – Chinese II V8
2985   – Chinese III V9
3802   – French I V13
3795   – French II V13
3863   – M/J Spanish Beginning V12
3794   – Spanish for Spanish Speakers 1 V12
2977   – Spanish I V9
3864   – Spanish II V13
3408   – Spanish III V1

Our development team put together an idea in all those course shells listed above. Students must pass A COUNT of voice activities. In other words, if there are 10 activities the student must pass six. Scores are not relevant here. In these shells grades will appear as follows:


We hope this helps. Please let us know. Your life with numbers and voices should prove simpler.

Two Roads

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
~ Ernest Hemingway

First … there was this message:

Just curious if there is a shortcut to upload a file to a student’s folder through feedback. I have kids email my FLVS address (not Educator) all the time, and I have to go through the folders, then upload, and then go to feedback. I guess I could grade through the folders, but I was just wondering.

Then … after that first one along came another:

You know what would be great? It would be great if we could upload a file to a student folder while in their gradebook, instead of having to find ‘student folders’.

And then … when we wondered about a use case:

For those live lessons they can’t save, etc. They submit the form showing they’ve submitted the work; we upload the file from there when grading.

You know the drill. First we listen. Next we try to understand. Then we take action!



We found more than one way to get this job done. You wanted express paths to a student’s folder. How about two?


From the individual student grade report or from the student roster, you will now be able to reach the student’s folder in just one click! (We finally found a great secondary use for the student username!) Click on that name in either of these screens, and you will be at the root of the student’s folder:


Try it. This should be a lot easier on your end. It should also help lighten your navigation load. Please let us know how it works.


There was another email request to empower you to search for students by date. The use case goal was to find any/all students who might be in their first week or month of class in order to readily email them or possibly force them to a certain screen. Here we go! Navigate to STUDENTS > FIND STUDENTS:


Click on the ENROLLED SINCE box to reveal the calendar. Pick your date and choose SEARCH. Once complete … you can email, group, or force any/all students found. We hope this helps.

Keep those comments and ideas rolling. We still want them. Visit our Facebook page and join in the conversations or start your own. Your ideas and suggestions do indeed make a difference. You make us “jump to the skies.” Thanks in advance.

There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind, and you jump to the skies.
~ Robert Frost

Small Talk

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.
~ Demosthenes

You originally planted all enhancements that were harvested this week. There are three small changes that could make a big difference. Please let us know. You see things that we do not. We count on you to share. You count on us to act.

Snippet Names

Student names come over to Educator from VSA in a wide variety of formats. Teachers don’t want their snippets to look like automatic fillers. A student’s name in Educator might be TYLER DURDEN or TyLeR DuRdEn in Educator. If you take advantage of using variables, it appeared too much like an auto responder. Effective immediately in snippet variables, the student’s name will be inserted with the first letter in uppercase and all remaining letters lowercase. TyLeR DuRdEn will become Tyler Durden.  PLEASE NOTE: A name like Ronald McDonald will be inserted as Ronald Mcdonald. While this is incorrect, it is consistent with other areas of Educator.

New Number

Some of us love numbers; some of us prefer to avoid them whenever possible. The same applies to your students, right? There has been more than one request to show the number of assignments remaining for a student. The developers have therefore reduced the amount of mental math required when reviewing the grade report. The number of remaining assessments to complete will appear on the grade report page for teachers …


and for students as well.


Warning: Honors!

When a non-honors student enters an honors assessment they will receive a warning:


The warning will be formatted in the student’s browser. This will be similar to the segment warning already received.

Let us know what other ideas you have. We already have an exciting list on the developers’ workbench, but we can always use more. It’s up to you!

from New York City Transit Authority poster

from New York City Transit Authority poster

One Less Emergency

Emergency! Everybody to get from street!
~ Lieutenant Rozanov , The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966)

emergencySomeone once shared with me, “There are no emergencies in education.”  Spend some time working support on a help desk, and you might wonder about that statement!

As an example, poll some teachers working in the online world, and ask them about students working in the wrong segment …
Did you ever have a student who was paying less attention than necessary and just plowed through a litany of assignments?
Have you heard the moans of angst and anger from that student who just completed five assignments that were “not going to count?”

These may not be emergencies, but they certainly qualify as annoyances. Would you agree?

The developers looked over your suggestions of help for students and have taken a shot at resolving the well-proclaimed wrong segment emergency. At the outset please understand … this works entirely with the information furnished to Educator from VSA. The results will only be as good as the data. On their workload and grade report screens students will now default to viewing only their current segment assessments. Here’s how it functions:

  • Students enrolled ONLY in segment one will only see segment one by default.
  • The same goes for those enrolled ONLY in segment two.
  • Students WILL be able to view all assessments IF THEY CHOOSE TO DO SO.

Take a look at this Student Workload (ASSESSMENTS):


The SHOW SEGMENT selector will show either or both segments. This is the DEFAULT view for a student enrolled in segment one (as noted on top). All listed assessments are from the DEFAULT segment. The same would apply to this student’s Grade Report. The only visible records would be from segment one.


PLEASE NOTE: A student is free to DEFAULT TO ALL ASSESSMENTS with the click of a button. This will change the DEFAULT in ALL of his/her courses to the same. In other words, this button is a global setting for the student. This can be returned to the new normal/default segment viewing by selecting the DEFAULT TO CURRENT ASSESSMENTS button in any course. Once again, this setting will apply to ALL of a student’s courses.

Currently, all students see all assignments regardless of segment enrollment. We hope this new default setting will lessen the emergencies noted above. Let us know how it goes. For teachers and teaching assistants the Grade Report view will default to seeing ALL assignments. This can be changed, but it will change for your viewing ALL students in ALL courses. There will be no impact on the teacher/TA workload; only the student (all students) Grade Report will be impacted. Moving on to another request …


No longer will you be limited to sorting for only one grade. You can now select a range of grades by which to filter your roster. Follow the three steps above and enjoy! (Use numerals, hyphen, and to only: 11-12 or 7 to 8.) The same calls to action buttons will apply here as well.

If you are at all curious about the “emergency” immortalized by Lt. Rozanov (Alan Arkin) in the above quotation, just pay a YouTube visit here, smile, and enjoy 45 seconds.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
~ William Butler Yeats

Willing To Wonder

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Your Educator updates this week are hiding once again. From time to time, the work performed under the hood takes greater precedence. It’s what allows the developers those opportunities to show how much they listen and understand. In other words … the stage for next week’s winning performance is taking a week to setup. Like every concert experience created by the E Street Band, the wait should prove worthwhile.


While the developers were working underground and behind the scenes, we managed to guest lecture with some elementary school students this past week. The energy was vibrant; their eyes were wide open. It was exciting to see and feel an unbridled willingness to wonder. They just wanted to know more. They wanted to learn and understand. They were happy to venture into the unknown and see what happened. There’s a connection to what we do here.

We listen to your ideas and work to understand. We record them all; we draw lines, make groups, and establish priorities. We enjoy walking in your shoes. Let us know your mind, and we will continue to serve you and your students as best we can. The more we understand your thinking and processes, the better we can do, the better we perform. And the better we perform, the happier you get! So, what’s on your mind this week?

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works.
If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else.
The trick is the doing something else.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

Tweaks ‘R’ Us

No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.
~ Alfred North Whitehead

Gratitude seemed to really flow from many of you with our introduction of the Collaboration Finder last month. As always … your suggestions and observations keep us on our toes here in the Ucompass development labs. Changes are sometimes simple; other times they might be considerably complex. It makes no difference to us, as long as it increases your efficiency or the ability of your students to get on with the business of learning. Many of you have spoken up about the Collaboration Finder, and we’ve evaluated many of your suggestions. Here we go with some tweaks.

Collaboration Finder Enhancements

CF_offYou asked for more control of the CF feature in your courses.
In some classes you want it on; in others you prefer to have it turned off. The choice is now yours!

This feature is only available to teachers.
PLEASE NOTE: A TA will NOT be able to work with these Collaboration Finder settings.

By default the Collaboration Finder is turned ON in all course shells. All assignments are included there as well, but more on that shortly. Navigate to ASSESSMENTS > ASSIGNMENTS. At the bottom of that page you will see the new button, TURN COLLABORATION FINDER ON/OFF. When clicked, this will automatically refresh the page, and you will notice the change in the ON/OFF label.  Think of this as the master switch.

You also wanted more granular control of which assignments were available for collaboration by students. NOTE AGAIN PLEASE: Teachers only! Each individual teacher can determine exactly what assignments should be available for collaborative activity.


From the ASSESSMENTS > ASSIGNMENTS page just uncheck whatever assignments you do NOT want included in the Collaboration Finder. You can add one back anytime you like. This should prevent students from selecting assignments in your course on which you do not want them to collaborate.

Lost and Found?

Have you ever wanted to quickly find the “lost” students, those students who have managed not to submit anything since a certain date? Let’s find them!



3 – Select the COURSE you wish to search and click GO


4 – The COURSE SPECIFIC section contains the submission date filter


The ASSIGNMENT SPECIFIC choices will expect a specific assessment to be selected. The COURSE SPECIFIC selections (submission date or entrance) will NOT require specific assessments. That selection will disappear when those choices are made. When you select the HAVE NOT SUBMITTED SINCE selector, a calendar will be presented.


Select your date choice and click SELECT.

The resulting table is completely sortable and the checkboxes make selections. Action choices are all listed at the bottom of the table and apply to all checked selections: email; add to a group; force somewhere.


For those of you who caught us early this week … congratulations! For those who have continued to share fresh ideas … thank you! And to those who have yet to share your thoughts … we’ll wait patiently.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
~ Albert Schweitzer

4X4: Excerpts and Enhancements

We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.
~ Carol Burnett

The school year is winding down. Much of your focus seems to be shifting to grades. The same is surely true for your students. The exams are rolling in, and those last-minute attachments are flying! The ink is barely dry on some prom night stories, or they are about to be written. The end of year focus in the hallways even seeps into our world of Educator, doesn’t it? Recent posts on our Facebook page or relayed to us via email have guided our developers this week. We have four excerpts, four use cases, and four enhancements.

(1) EXAM: Have It Your Way

“At the end if a final exam it would be great to have a check box with ‘take me to this students grade report.’ Thanks.”

The developers have decided to add this to all exams.


These same developers then decided to modernize the choices after assignments. The radio buttons have disappeared and made way for the same drop-down menu of choices:


(2) EXAM: Flying Calculator

“I have something I would love to see. When grading an assignment with multiple essay questions is there a way for the total points of the essays to be automatically tabulated as you are grading? I have to scroll through and add them all and calculate the grade percentage manually to know what the student truly scored so I can include proper feedback.”

This made sense to everyone on this end! Let us know how you feel about it.

When you are grading an exam and have the NEXT UNGRADED ESSAY navigation active, you will notice a current grade fraction and percentage. The fraction represents the current score divided by the total possible points. At this moment with no essays graded, the student has scored 53.5 points out of a total possible 250:


With us so far? When you enter a manual grade for an essay and click anywhere outside that scoring box, the current grade AND number of ungraded essays will change to reflect your input.

The 10 points credited in this example raised the current grade 10 points to 63.5 out of the same possible 250 for a current total percentage of 24.40%. We trust this answers the manual calculation headache.

(3) EXAM: Reset History

“Is there any way that module exams could show us whether or not they have been reset quite the same way that a regular quiz tells you how many times the student has reset the assessment? It would be nice to click on it, and see something at the top that says this assessment has been reset, or something to that effect.”

This makes sense, especially when there is a TA (or three) also working in the same shell. The developers therefore decided to enable this reset record display feature for teachers and assistants as well. NOTE: The TA must be accessing TA controls.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE: The Reset History will only be available if the teacher has reset an exam.
If so, the Exam History bar will appear on the exam form page:

Clicking that bar will open the complete reset history:


We trust this has satisfactorily addressed yet another request.

(4) ASSIGNMENT: Attached

“I would find it useful to see a little paper clip or some indicator to let me know if the student has an attachment included with the assessment. Thank you for all of the great updates to Educator!”

This seemed reasonable enough and might benefit all.


We told you that we listen, didn’t we? Make some noise, and we’ll probably get on it, sooner or later.

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
~ Albert Einstein